Painkillers were originally manufactured and prescribed to handle chronic pain. For patients who did not have illnesses such as cancer but did have chronic back pain or other joint pain, patients with muscle pain or chronic headaches, painkillers were often prescribed to address this pain and allow them to live a normal life. However, painkillers do not do a good job of addressing the pain on an extended period of time, as many patients report increased sensitivity to pain and a need for more of the drugs.
So if painkillers really do not work why are they being prescribed? For some, doctors are just not informed about the risks associated with taking painkillers. Many doctors consider that addiction is a rare side effect, nothing to take too seriously because it is so unlikely to happen. However, this is just simply not true. More and more people are becoming dependent on and addicted to narcotic painkillers after being prescribed the medication from their doctor. There are studies that indicate that over half of the patients who take prescription painkillers for more than three months are still taking the pills five years later. This shows that long-term use means the patient will likely become addicted.
Another reason why prescription narcotics are being given out so much is because patients request them. When a person visits a doctor for a chronic pain problem they often assume they are going to leave the office with a prescription for an opioid like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Doctors often do not want to disappoint them and fulfill the patients requests for some form of immediate relief, which can be understandable. The point isn’t to blame doctors, but just to show there are multiple contributing factors to the problem.
In order to avoid further addictions to painkillers, doctors need to familiarize themselves with the potential for addiction. Other alternatives to chronic pain treatment should be considered either before or along with the prescribing of drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Many people find success in handling their chronic pain by consulting with a physical therapist, exercising more and changing their diet, among several other avenues. These healthier alternatives allow the person to live a life free from addiction while still being able to manage their pain.